Did you know that the average person eats one in every six meals out of home in restaurants, cafés and other locations, and if snacks and 'grab and go' food are added in, men get about quarter of their calories when eating out and women about a fifth?
Eating out is part of everyday life, but it shouldn't always have to involve unhealthy eating. We're used to making choices based on calorie content and other factors when we buy and consume our food, and eating out shouldn't be any different. Having healthy options on the menu are important when making the decision to eat well and stay healthy.
That's why Suffolk is introducing a new award scheme for caterers called Eat Out, Eat Well. Working in conjunction with environmental health teams at the county's district and borough councils, this will reward caterers for offering healthier food choices to customers.
Most catering premises that serve food to the public are eligible for the award, including restaurants, cafes, hotels, workplace and hospital restaurants and pubs. The level of award is based on a scoring system that takes into account the type of food on offer, cooking methods, and how businesses promote healthy choices to their customers. The higher the score the higher the level of award.
Some examples of how these healthier options will work in practice include:
Research by the Food Standards Agency suggested that consumers felt that healthy eating was an important influencing factor when deciding what food to eat both inside and outside the home. Obesity is a growing epidemic in the UK and causes more than 30,000 deaths a year in England alone. Diet plays a major role in heart disease and has been linked to some cancers. It's more important than ever for food outlets to help consumers make the right choices.
The Eat Out, Eat Well scheme is delivered in partnership between Public Health Suffolk, Babergh District Council and Mid Suffolk District Council, West Suffolk Council, Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils. The assessments will be carried out with participating caterers by local environmental health teams.
If you run a catering business (for example, a cafe or restaurant), and would like to know why it's worth getting involved, the Eat Out Eat Well award is good for you, your business and your customers.
You could make a huge contribution to improving your customers' diet and health by providing healthier food choices.
You'll have public recognition for achieving the award and could enhance your image as a responsible business that puts its customers first. It could give you a competitive edge and increase customer satisfaction as the demand for healthier choices continue to grow – many manufacturers and retailers who have introduced healthier options are seeing growth in sales.
Your customers will be able to benefit from the freedom to select a healthier option, giving them more control over what they choose to eat that will ultimately benefit their health.
This free award is open to all types of catering establishment that cater for the general public. This could include restaurants, cafes, canteens, catering businesses and more.
To achieve an award your business will be assessed against certain criteria that are based on the principles of a healthy balanced diet, such as keeping fat, sugar and salt to a minimum, making fruit and vegetables widely available and basing main meals on starchy carbohydrates. You will also be assessed on marketing and promotion of healthier options. The award is free for businesses to enter. If you are interested in achieving an Eat Out, Eat Well award please complete the Register for the Award form available at Eat Out Eat well - How to apply
Additional information including a range of useful documents with more detailed guidance is available on the Eat Out Eat Well website